The Kitchen Designer

Thanks for stopping by! I'm Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, and my mission is to take kitchen design style, function and analysis to a higher level. Here's why the kitchen has the most honored place in the home - all five senses reside in the kitchen.  Best...Susan  Contact: susan@susanserraassociates.com

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AutoKitchen Kitchen Design Software

A little bit of shop talk here, but I'm happy to share news of this new kitchen design software and technology that I am using.

I'm excited to debut and share information on my new kitchen software with you. It's called AutoKitchen and it's truly state of the art! The AutoKitchen representative, knowing that I am a working designer, offered to provide me with a copy of AutoKitchen software to review and to use in my practice, gratis. I already was using design software, but having recently upgraded my software and being disappointed in the quality of the renderings at the highest level of detail, I thought it a good time to take a look at all the competitors in this narrow field of kitchen design software for professional designers.

As with any product I review (in 3 years, this is my 3rd review) and as is a typical policy for many bloggers, it has to meet my own personal standards as a useful product with qualities that I feel have merit. Otherwise, I decline to review the product, which I have done once after using a particular product and twice in the case of books.

In this case, the graphics (crazy photo realism) were noticeably better than my existing program. I didn't "need" a new program. I was not looking for another program. In fact, I had just recently upgraded my existing program for a nice sum of $$. But, when I looked at this program in more detail, first, in comparison to what I was using, another very reputable program designed for the kitchen/bath industry, there is no question that I was immediately "wowed" by the super sharp graphics that AutoKitchen produces.

This program, from my perspective, IS state of the art! It's a significant enhancement to my business, an upgrade for my clients who will see their kitchen in better detail, and so, I'm extremely happy to share my thoughts on this program with those who appreciate beautifully designed graphics.

As I become more proficient with AutoKitchen (these images are from AutoKitchen's files) I'll be sharing the very cool drawings that it produces. If you are a designer and looking to make a change, I encourage you to take a look at AutoKitchen. If my existing program had been comparable, I would have had no need to a) learn a new program b) learn a new program c) learn a new program, all of which is extremely time consuming and quite honestly, always slow going at first, then takes more time to get fully up to speed, which designers understand. But, as a designer, beautiful graphics are extremely important, which trumps time spent learning a new program, for sure.

Having used my program (with regular updates) for 18 years, I did not make this change lightly; the software had to produce compelling solutions for my business. After my careful analysis of AutoKitchen and its competition over the course of two months, it does. I did not go for test drives with other software companies, but I very closely analyzed finished renderings on the companies' websites (the ultimate issue for me), talked to industry colleagues, and took a hard look at my existing software as well, which involved several sessions with the manufacturer to make completely sure that I was familiar with its top quality renderings options.

Had I not believed that AutoKitchen produces THE finest graphics in the kitchen design software industry, I would not have been interested. Why change a program I was comfortable with after 18 years to something that is second or third best? That would be a bad decision on several levels.

I can report that AutoKitchen's customer service is superb, otherwise, that would surely be a dealbreaker for me. CAD compatability is a big plus too. There is no question in my mind that the time invested is, and will be, worth it. I'm happy to share my perspective on this program. Miguel, from AutoKitchen, is a delight to work with and endlessly patient. 

For further information, call Miguel Merida. Phone: 201-568-3555 or miguel.merida@microcadsoftware.com.


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Reader Comments (30)

Crazy photo realism is right - that's some shiny stuff. How long did it take you to get a grasp of it so far? You know I love my Chief Architect, but that makes me drool.

January 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

These are truly beautiful. And I agree that it renders materials as good or better than software(s) X that I've been using. Bravo! I'd be interested to know what the initial cost and yearly maintenance costs are more than "Most Popular Brand X" whoes maintenance costs have gone up to $800 a year (which means I'm going to stop upgrading it). Also, do as many cabinet manufacturers provide symbol catalogs?

January 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Well, I should have just looked at their site before asking a bunch of irritating questions! I was surprised to see that you can actually see the cost options of the software right on their website. (Not so with Super Popular Brand X). Autokitchen seems to be about the same price as Chief. I didn't see anything about anual maintenance (upgrade) costs though or if there is an additional charge for customer support (something Chief added in version X1 that is $400 a year). At this point, Autokitchen is sounding (and looking) like a really good deal for what it does... Oh and I was also surprised to see the minimum software requirements were very low, so you should experience faster render times and less crashes.

January 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Ah, yes, I have been impressed with Auto Kitchen for a number of years now ever since I started researching alternatives to the x0x0 brand, and like many designers, I have had a love-hate relationship with x0x0. One of the primary reasons I could not convince my company to buy into Auto Kitchen was the lack of manufacturer catalog support and that it did not have an integrated pricing module, a critical feature for cross checking plan to purchase order. I haven't checked into this lately, I hope they have increased the number of manufacturer catalogs.

January 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie Burke

The other thing that is very important to me in software is the electrical and lighting symbols, the ease in creating a corresponding legend and the clearness in printing a plan with the electrical and lighting symbols. I did not see any electrical plan samples in AutoKitchen's website. The trouble with my brand is that the symbols appear faded when printed. Every electrician has complained about the poor quality of the symbols in the brand software I use. I resort to hand drawn symbols, which defeats the purpose of a professional look.

January 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie Burke

I'm going to invite Miguel to answer some questions. I don't know if he prefers to do so by phone or via this forum or what.

January 16, 2010 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Kelly, in two hours, I knew enough to really get going with it. Of course, I needed follow help and will have to sit down for another lesson or two. But, the concepts I found to be easy to grasp.

Pam, yes, I think they give good information on their site along with lots of different images. You could never be irritating! I quickly learned that I should not be looking at brandX and I learned that from the users! Being a smaller company, I think, makes them very accessible for information, suggestions, etc.

Laurie, we all work different ways, of course, and in my case, one of my cabinet companies that I use most is not affiliated with a software company for their catalog, so I knew I would not have that. I have gotten along without it.

I also am not interested in a pricing program because I just don't trust them. I prefer to either use the mfrs website for pricing directly. I even feel that way about the appliance dimension service...I get my specs directly from the mfrs website. Just my preference.

You're VERY right, IMO, about electrical symbols. I don't know if they have them, I may have asked and cannot remember the answer to that.

January 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Hi all,

In terms of manufacturer catalogs and pricing we are doing a couple of things: One is adding some new catalogs such as Jay Rambo. We are in conversations with half a dozen cabinet manufacturers and are on track to add at least 4-6 more catalogs in 2010. The other thing we have done in Autokitchen 9 is expanding the ability to customize cabinets and improved the budgeting module. Most of our customers use this budgeting module to get a complete list of the cabinets in a project. This makes the pricing easier and faster.

In Autokitchen 9 we have added many new electrical symbols and an automatic symbol legend feature. One of the things we have encountered in the past is the lack of uniformity when it comes to these symbols. For example, customers in one state use a particular notation but for the same concept, customers in a different state use a different symbol. We decided to enter the NKBA symbols, but even with these, we still may need to add others so we are open to suggestions.

Please write or call with more questions.

Thank you.

January 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMiguel

You added an automatic electrical symbol legend feature? I am drooling! This is good news! Yes, I agree with Susan about the manufacturers own pricing program. Some manufactures have started to offer this and once I tried it, I actually prefer this option for absolute accuracy. I also can appreciate the customization cabinet feature AK has in the Pro version as well as the budgeting module. Anything that increases accuracy in the plan and elevations as well as the rendered image is an asset to the designer.

January 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie Burke

Wow, pretty fantastic images. That bottom kitchen looks just like mine - not! Can't wait to see your own work using this, Susan!

Thanks Linda! Very sexy renderings, these are!

Miguel, glad you are here to answer questions. It's good to have the expert...I'm far from an expert!

Laurie, just an fyi, sometimes I have not had a mfrs catalog in my software and I haven't missed it at all. If there are enough options for customization, that's the important thing to me. But, in the case of doors, unless it's a very unusual door style, a raised panel door is pretty basic, as is a recessed door, and I've found that clients are not looking for precision of the door design in the drawings and when I have had the door design in my software from the manufacturer, it's not completely precise anyway. Again, just what works for me.

January 17, 2010 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Hi Susan, thanks for the great subject - just wanted to add my 2 cents worth. I've used AutoKitchen quite a bit and I think it's great. I've posted a few renderings and notes on my blog. From the real world rather than the Auto Kitchen website, if anybody is interested. http://www.kitchenclarity.com/2010/01/cad-software-for-kitchens/

January 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterClarityK

Sarah, so glad you stopped by and shared that you like it! That's great to hear. Thanks for doing that blog post, the renderings look great, and I can see the range from quick to higher quality, that helps! You're a peach!

January 17, 2010 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

I couldn't believe when I read that those weren't photos, but graphics! They're so realistic. Thanks for sharing.

January 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Warner

Wow Susan, that is impressive software. The graphics are amazing and you are right, that is important with our clients. And its CAD compatable. Great! Thanks for sharing!
Paula Grace ~

January 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaula Grace

Amazing kitchen

January 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKitchen Guy

Great dialogue. Based on all of this, I have contacted autodesk to get more info. I use Planit and cad now and need to either get new updates or change and not real happy with any of my options. I also would like to know when someone is going to get a program compatible with mac. Seems odd they do not as macs are known for their graphics. I have a dual platform but still a pain to change from one to the other. But, I like what I am hearing about this program so thanks one and all!

January 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercheryl

The intersection of design and technology is fascinating to me! I have really seen it in action recently, working on my new house with a KD, architect, and designer.

I have a kitchen related post up today, would love for you to stop by!

January 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThings That inspire

I'm back!

Thanks for tweeting me back on TimeLess Tuesday! Now I want to formally invite you to participate ~

Beginning Feb 2nd, I am hosting a party every Tuesday on all timeless classis things ~ interior design, fashion, special occassions and entertaining, art, ..... Most of your posts fit right in!!

Your blog is one of my classics now so I hope you and your readers join the party.

Here is a link to let you know more about it ~ http://paulagracedesigns.blogspot.com/2010/01/timeless-tuesday.html

Looking forward to seeing you and your readers there!

Paula Grace ~

January 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaula Grace

CAD design has really shaped up my business and it's great to use when you have a paticually difficult customer who keeps changing their mind every minute!
Check out some of my final designs :)

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWill

I have been a sales rep for Autokitchen for several years now and in just a few upgrades the rendering capabilities have increased exponentially. We see a lot of the better quality custom lines offering (or requiring) that you use a proprietary pricing program to place orders, and this makes the use of a complete design program like Autokitchen even more appealing. We provide initial "computer buddy" availablility to our dealers and find that with just a few designs, most are proficient enough to fly solo.

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristopher Simcox

It's true, you as a designer may not need this level of detail to visualize a potential space (even something like SketchUp is enough for that), it's the client who often needs a LOT of help visualizing.

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterElemental LED

These are great graphics. It makes it look so real. The design is great. Cheers!

Kitchen Cabinets

February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJason

fabulous kitchen design, truly innovative and a masterpiece

February 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterloft conversion

Certainly such graphics help us give a better idea before we can actually start remodeling. Very useful information.

May 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKitchen Remodeling

This is a whole lot better than autocad.. I mean, i think with a specialized design for kitchens.. with embedded tools for sunshine coast kitchen. I wonder how it works..

July 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen

Do this software effective to model sunshine coast kitchen? How effective is this modelling software?

July 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSunshine

Would this software be easy to use for someone who isn't a professional designer? I'd like to try creating my own design first then show it to my interior designer so she'd know what look I really want to achieve for my kitchen.

Jane Dawson
Designer Watch

July 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJane Dawson

Wow I had to do a double take on those images before realizing they are CAD images. How powerful does your computer have to be to run it though? Anyway those sample layouts are great but some look like they need to be installed in an airplane hangar. Humongous kitchens!

just wondering. was the design program most people had problems with x0x0? i have tried others and always come back to. i currently use 8.1 and am able to produce some very high quality renderings. i often hear complaints about the program, but it seems it always boils down to a lack of proficiency in the user.
i am a designer and builder, and use this program for most of my design work.


bill zielinski

December 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBILL ZIELINSKI

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